What a Journey
By Vicki McKinnon
I purchased an interesting horse magazine just over 2 years ago now, never suspecting how it would change the course of my life. I am 59 years old this year and have been in the company of horses for most of my life. In that magazine was an article entitled ‘Horses as Healers’. It talked about horses helping people heal from Post Traumatic Stress, abuse and other mental and physical troubles. I felt all the puzzle pieces fall into place and knew I had finally discovered the answer to so many of my questions.
I have always read lots of self help, psychology and philosophy books in my quest for the answers to life’s questions. I have also been blessed with sharing my life with horses. Of the two, the horses gave me more peace. I have often told friends and family that spending time with my horses is what has kept me sane. I also witnessed guests at my home visibly reduce their tension and stress by just being in the presence of the horses as they were just being horses. These observations were noted and kept in my memory but not totally appreciated until the article put them in a whole new perspective.
In the article were references to books, schools and other ways to learn more about this amazing field. I began devouring all the books that I could find on the subject and started researching schools. At the ripe old age of 57, I had finally found what I wanted to do when I grew up. Everything I had learned and experienced in my life had led me to this amazing place and prepared me for the most exciting part of my journey so far. I have taken some introductory courses in the field as well as a course focused on the psychological aspects and their impact on clients and practioners and am currently enrolled in an apprenticeship in pursuit of my EFW-CAN certification as an equine practitioner. Quite a leap of change for an accountant.
One of the wonderful benefits of learning about this field is how it has altered and confirmed my view of my own horses. I have never thought of them as ‘just a dumb animal’ but I also did not really appreciate their level of intelligence, emotion and sentience either. Reading about people who are receiving messages and communication from their horses and watching the horses of my instructors perform amazing work with people has been enlightening and life changing. But, even more of a WOW has been hearing my own horses and watching them enable emotional work with individuals. I can tell you with conviction, do not doubt your own horses. They are all truly kind and compassionate and will step forward to work with the kind of people they know they can help.
"No longer feeling that I must ride them has been liberating for me as I always did spend more time grooming than riding anyway."
My horses are all individuals with different strengths and preferences. Even though I have always loved, pampered and cared for my horses to the best of my knowledge and ability, I have discovered there was still room for some improvement and they are still and always will continue to teach me more. Appreciating and treating my horses as intelligent, sentient beings is a learning experience that is enlightening and will continue for the rest of my life. I now see my horses as my partners and friends more than ever before and spend more time just being with them then I do riding them. No longer feeling that I must ride them has been liberating for me as I always did spend more time grooming than riding anyway. I guess a part of me always knew...now it has been confirmed, they really are trying to be our friends and share the beauty of cross species connection with us.
I do still ride, although it will never be about drills and the perfection of unnatural movement or position again. I have also discarded the use of bits and discovered how soft my horse can be on a bitless bridle. We go out for trail rides on our hillside switching leadership roles freely as we go. Imagine allowing your horse to choose which way to turn at a fork in the trail. Try it, but keep in mind that they are guided by their bellies so you will have to establish some boundaries. It makes the ride an adventure in trust and you will never look back. With the guidance of your horse you will see your trails in a whole new way.
"They are truly the masters of allowing life to flow as it should without thought."
There are a large number of books available that address how people need to rediscover how to live in the moment, the now, and stop obsessing about the past that is already done or the future that might come. Those of us who surround ourselves with horses live that lesson every day by just allowing ourselves to enjoy their presence. They are truly the masters of allowing life to flow as it should without thought. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to live without the incessant conversations in your head? Go out in the field with your horses.....take a few deep breaths....close your eyes....just stop and allow yourself to be in the moment. The answers are there in the field...all we have to do is open our hearts to the possibilities. The horses are just waiting for us to spend time with them and listen.
I must admit that I had my doubts about some of the things that I have read. I didn’t believe that my horses would talk to me. I am an accountant. I have always been quite analytical, logical and pretty much needed to see it to believe it. Needless to say, that has all changed. The study of the way of the horse has opened my eyes, my mind and my intuition in ways I would not have believed possible. What an incredible process. However, I was still focused on the practicality and how I could work it all into a viable career choice. It was still very much about the destination. My wonderful mare, Maggie, had something to say about that.
Maggie and I were enjoying one of our meandering rides on our hillside. I was trying to stay in the moment and just enjoy the ride. I am sure you can appreciate how difficult that can be. I had allowed her to choose which fork in the trail we took, but was feeling some annoyance as she was wandering from one side of the trail...over to the other side of the trail...and back again. She was
“It is not about the destination you moron, it is about enjoying the journey.”
basically zigzagging her way along the path. I found myself feeling the need to make her proceed in a straight line to our destination. As I prepared to actually pick up my reins, I asked Maggie just what on earth she thought she was doing?? There is absolutely no doubt in my mind where the answer came from and it was loud and clear. “It is not about the destination you moron, it is about enjoying the journey.” Yes, Maggie is pretty direct, but that is the lesson. Enjoy the journey, that is what we are here for and that is what the horses demonstrate for us in their daily existence.
Thank you to all the horses in my life for sharing my journey with me. You have enriched my life in ways I would never have believed possible and I know we are just at the start of a wonderful trail together. To quote Bruce Willis from the Die hard series....’ Yippee kai yay.’ What a ride!!